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We've all seen it. Another motorist has cleared just enough snow off his windshield to be able to see straightforward. It's the size of a peephole. (Maybe you've done it. We're not judging. Well, maybe we are.)

But how much snow do you actually have to clear off your car before getting out on the road? The short answer is, "All of it."

According to Michigan law, drivers cannot operate their vehicles if there is an object that obstructs the driver's vision. Drivers also can't drive with a rear window that is obstructed unless there are two mirrors adjusted to allow a clear view behind the vehicle.

Drivers are also required to clear snow that blocks the headlights, blinkers, and taillights.

But what about the snow on my car's roof? The hood? The back?

While there seems to be some question about the legality of driving with a mound of snow on top of your car, Michigan law makes it clear that letting snow, ice, or slush fall from your vehicle onto the roadway is a violation of the law.

Here's an excerpt from MCL 257.677a(2)-(4), which states that a person shall not:

  • “remove, or cause to be removed, snow, ice, or slush onto or across a roadway or the shoulder of the roadway in a manner which obstructs the safety vision of the driver of a motor vehicle other than off-road vehicles.”
  • “deposit, or cause to be deposited, snow, ice, or slush onto or across a roadway or the shoulder of the roadway in a manner which obstructs the safety vision of the driver of a motor vehicle.”
  • “deposit, or cause to be deposited, snow, ice or slush on any roadway or highway.”

In other words, snow needs to be cleared from vehicles before they hit the road, otherwise it's illegal.

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